Classicide in Communist China

By Wu, Harry | Comparative Civilizations Review, Fall 2012 | Go to article overview
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Classicide in Communist China

Wu, Harry, Comparative Civilizations Review

Since the establishment of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, China has known only one form of government: the authoritarian communism of Mao Zedong. Although China has undergone 30 years of major social and economic transitions, from a political standpoint, the fundamental system of dictatorship established by Mao Zedong has not changed. Why? Because China's leaders are deeply afraid of falling from power and allowing real freedom, democracy, and human rights to flourish.

The Party of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao is the party of Mao Zedong. We cannot just forget the crimes committed against humanity over the course of its 60-year history. The world rightfully remembers the tragedy of the Holocaust where around 20 million were killed. But many in the West do not realize that genocide has taken place on an even greater scale in the People's Republic of China. Under Mao's reign, it is estimated that 65 million people died of unnatural causes- many of whom were killed because of their class background.

"Genocide," as defined by the United Nations, "involves acts committed with the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group." The methods of genocide are not limited to killing, but also include mental harm and restrictions on people's rights and freedoms. The brutal and widespread "classicide" committed by the Chinese government was indeed genocide.

What is classicide? In order to consolidate his power, Mao Zedong implemented a nation-wide ideology to undermine those who previously held power. According to the Chinese Communist Party's revolutionary theory, society is composed of different classes of people who can be divided into two major groups: the exploiting class and the exploited. The Communist Party sought to exterminate the "exploiting classes," so it launched a political campaign to determine the political and social status of individuals. According to each individual's possession of land, capital, property, and income (as well as the situation of their family members), everyone in the country was designated as a member of the landlord class, the rich peasant class, the middle peasant class, or the poor worker and peasant classes.

The poor classes were praised for their humble way of life and work ethic, and so they willingly supported the Communist Party. Meanwhile, the landowners, the wealthy, the intellectual elite, and the remnants of Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist government were demonized and persecuted as "black classes". Not only was their property seized, but they were sent to do the most difficult and dangerous manual labor in the countryside. Some of these people were beaten to death during various political movements, and many were sent into the Laogai - China's forced labor prison system.

The Communist Party proclaimed that class struggle was necessary for promoting social development, and said that the violence which ensued was necessary to establish a proletarian socialist state. According to research, in 1949 there were around 10 to 15 million members of the landlord and rich peasant classes nationwide. By the end of the 1970s, when the Cultural Revolution had ended, only 10 to 15 percent of them remained alive.

As for myself, I made some comments in a student political meeting at my university: I criticized the Soviet suppression in Budapest in 1956. I also disagreed with those Communist Party members who treated the common people as second-class citizens. Because of these remarks, I was labeled a "Bourgeois-Counterrevolutionary-Rightist". In 1960, I was sentenced to life in the Laogai. At the time, I could not believe this injustice, but afterwards I realized that there were other reasons I had become a target. My father was a banker who was already considered a counter-revolutionary due to his capitalist ways and contact with people overseas. The children of "rightists" were often deemed to be "historical counter-revolutionaries", and so they also suffered a similar fate.

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